By ALAN SHACKLETON
An Enderby Road resident for 45 years, John Bettio and his family love celebrating Halloween and decorating their home for neighbourhood families to enjoy.
Bettio, 74, is already making plans for this year’s Halloween night display at his home at 36 Enderby Rd. It’s something he’s been doing since the middle of the 1980s.
“We have a great rapport with the neighbours about it, and when new people move onto the street and find out about it they really enjoy it,” said John in an interview with Beach Metro Community News.
The display features a number of different costumed figures, black light, a fog machine, spooky music and pumpkins. Lots of pumpkins.
“The biggest part of it is carving the pumpkins,” said John. “I will carve almost until the sun rises on Halloween day. It’s pretty much always an all-nighter as you want them freshly carved.”
Over the years, John (who is an architect) has fashioned some of his own tools to help with the carving. He does not use stencils or items that are sometimes used for pumpkin carving.
“I enjoy doing the jack-o-lanterns, and they are not all the same. They are also different sizes. One year I did the four Ninja Turtles, each with their own headband,” he said. “They are all free-hand carved and range in size from large pumpkins to small gourds. I’ve also carved a butternut squash, but the gourds are the hardest to carve. I’ve developed my own home-made tools and have a few artistic secrets on how to make the carving go faster.”
One of the scariest character figures in the display is the Grim Reaper, he said. There’s also a mummy that was once used as a Halloween costume by one of his sons. John uses the front porch of his home as “a stage” for the display and also gets into costume himself.
“I use the porch like a black-light theatre,” explained John. “The light is very important, and it relies heavily on the black light and also the use of the fog.”
The house is darkened entirely for the display and black light is used to make the different elements of it pop out. John’s children Mia, Adam and Jonah helped with the display when they were younger and still do now, as do the grandchildren.
Mia said she remembered as a child that all the lights had to be out in the house and could not be turned on again until Halloween night had ended.
“We all knew that when the lights went out in the house, it was go time,” said Mia. “We could only move around the inside of the house with a flashlight.”
While the display is both spooky and elaborate, the goal is not to terrify the children who are attending.”
“There’s nobody hiding under a pile of leaves who is going to jump out scare them,” said Mia.
John said most visitors are brave enough to head up the walkway but some are a bit more apprehensive when it comes to collecting their treats.
“It’s fun for the kids. We scare them a little bit, but we meet them halfway if they if they don’t want to come up. We don’t let them get overly scared,” he said.
John said he first got into the Halloween spirit when his children were attending nearby Kimberley Junior Public School. The school would hold a Halloween parade and John got involved in making costumes, and from there progressed to decorating the house.
They only missed a few years of the display since the 1980s. Once when they were doing a large house renovation, and again during COVID-19.
He said they used to get lots of kids and families coming through, but only had about 75 last year.
“In the heydays we’d get over 150. People would come from outside the neighbourhood or come back to the street because they’d gone to it themselves and were now bringing their own kids,” said John. “I remember I’d see a van stop in the street and a whole pile of kids would come flying out.”
Along with being a treat for the kids, John also provides a special hot “witches brew” kept warm in a crock pot for the adults to help fend off the cold if it’s a chilly Halloween night (or just to be social).
As anticipation toward Halloween night on Oct. 31 grows, the only thing John asks of those planning to attend is to wait until it is dark before arriving at the house.
“That’s the key time, after dark. I would say don’t come until the pumpkins are lit. It’s a bit hectic until they are all lit as we’re also getting into costume,” he said.
The house is located on the west side of Enderby Road, south of Gerrard Street East.
MORE HALLOWEEN HOUSES
There are a large number of wonderfully decorated homes in the Beach area for this Halloween. You can see video and photos of some of them on Beach Metro’s YouTube channel at
Another residence decorated for Halloween will be the multi-unit building at 27 Wayland Ave. Ivan Shaver puts this display together and has been doing so for a number of years so that neighbourhood children can enjoy Halloween.
“It’s an apartment building so I put the candy out for the kids to help themselves when they come around,” he told Beach Metro Community News.
Visitors can also sit with the skeleton in the display for photos.
“The kids seem to love it, and I do it for the fun of it. I guess I’m still a big kid and Halloween was a great time when I was a kid,” said Shaver.
Another decorated house for trick-or-treaters near the Danforth is located 11 Mendel Ave., which is one block southwest of Danforth and Woodbine avenues.
The display will be fully illuminated, complete with acoustics and characters in costumes.